May 24 2012 By Annette Belcher
MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman has stepped-in after frustrated borough residents said they felt trapped in a David and Goliath battle against high-speed rail.
The MP has answered urgent calls to attend a public meeting in July to deal with local fears over the project. Last Thursday, Berkswell residents attended a parish meeting, where discussion was almost entirely dominated by the rail link. Under plans, trains will thunder past the village at over 200mph.
Newly-elected chairman of Berkswell Parish Council Graham Lock said: We are all very concerned. I think the main concern is that residents feel there has been a lack of support so far. They feel alone.
There has previously been criticism that neither the constituency MP, Mrs Spelman, or the borough council is representing residents views.
But newly-elected borough councillor Tony Dicicco (Con, Meriden) stressed this week that both the local authority and Mrs Spelman are working tirelessly behind the scenes.
He added: I want people to know that I am taking this issue extremely seriously. As a resident of Balsall Common, I am also going to be affected by HS2.
The decision to go ahead with HS2 has been made. What we can do is make sure we get assurances that residents will be protected and appropriately compensated. Caroline Spelman has been actively engaging with residents and working behind the scenes, as have Solihull Council. A working group has been set up to look at how they will deal with HS2.
The MP said this week: Since the line was confirmed in January this year, I have written to every parish council affected to ask what mitigation measures they want to see in their area.
I have also met representatives from the SHCC and local councillors, and have asked to meet my colleague, Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, to push for a better deal once agreement has been reached locally on what mitigation we want to see. I know that many local people are worried about the effects the new line will have in our area and I am listening to these concerns.